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Using my voice for good

02/02/2023 03:34:18 PM

Feb2

Lucy Braginski

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. with four other teens from TBT to participate in the L’Taken seminar, a program led by the Religious Action Center, which teaches social justice through a reform Jewish lens. We met at a hotel with over 300 other teens from across the US. Over the weekend, we went to sessions on gun violence prevention, reproductive rights, Israel, migration, and more. We heard stories directly from someone who experienced housing inequity and talked about the racial and financial disparities in communities. 

At each session, we learned using something called “Living Talmud,” an activity where we read a touchstone quote from sacred Jewish texts as well as supporting quotes to have conversations about issues we care about. Even though some of us didn’t always agree on the same topics, everyone was able to have respectful and productive conversations. I found the conversations where I disagreed with someone more valuable, because it was interesting to hear someone else’s perspective and have both their and my ideas challenged. 

On Shabbat, we went to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, which had some of the most raw and disturbing photos of the Holocaust I’ve seen. I walked through pictures of Jewish joy and pictures of Jewish tragedy. I walked through a hall full of shoes and I walked through a train car that once had people in it. It smelled of musty paint.

That night, we celebrated Havdalah on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial with the Washington Monument glowing across the water. We lit candles and sang together, reflecting on the power each of us has as individual constituents in our country. 

All of our learning led up to a final session on how to lobby, that being our final activity for the weekend. Sprawled on the carpet in an empty conference room, we hunched over our computers, writing our lobbying speeches together. In each speech, we wrote about why the issue we chose is important to us as a country, us as Jews, and us as individuals. 

As a TBT group, Sennan, Skye, Jasmine, Roman and I decided to lobby on gun violence prevention, reproductive rights, and Israel. We wrote speeches to present to the offices of Senators Murray and Cantwell, as well as Representative DelBene. 

On Monday, we went to the hill, exploring the marble hallways of the senate and house buildings. We met with staff members in each office and gave our speeches. Doing so felt like we were making a difference in what we wanted our country to look like. That has inspired me to continue advocating for what I believe in, something that I will take with me well past this trip and into the rest of my life.

Mon, April 15 2024 7 Nisan 5784